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Google Buys Gamer Video Site Twitch.TV For $1 Billion: Report

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 4:34pm PDT

Google Buys Gamer Video Site Twitch.TV For $1 Billion: ReportThe Google deal for Twitch.TV, rumbled around in Silicon Valley for months, now finally is cinched at around $1 billion — but not officially announced, according to the tech investor site VentureBeat. If true, the deal would bring into the Google fold one of the biggest sources of online video traffic that isn’t already Google’s YouTube division, which is spearheading the deal. The acquisition also would reinforce how hot the videogame sector has become for online entertainment, as millions of fans watch others play, and sometimes grab their own bit of notoriety by streaming their performances on Internet-connected PCs, the Sony PS4 or the Microsoft Xbox One.

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Five Reasons Why Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios Is An Ex-Empire

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 8:44pm PDT

Five Reasons Why Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios Is An Ex-EmpireSome in Hollywood may have been surprised by Microsoft’s announcement that Xbox Entertainment Studios, its much-touted experiment in new kinds of interactive TV programming and headed by former CBS President Nancy Tellem, would be shut down. But really, didn’t we see this coming? Here are five reasons why the announcement was, ultimately, long in coming but not long in shock value, at least to veteran watchers of the uneasy, evolving boundary between Hollywood and Silicon Valley:

Deadline tech column David Bloom Shuffle the Deck. Of course, the greatest “sin” committed by Tellem and her crew is being an organizational outlier when the new guy took over. XES was launched two years ago under longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who ran the company for 14 years before retiring in February.

The new CEO, cloud-computing specialist Satya Nadella, had no particular organizational connection with Xbox before taking over. And indeed, in announcing 18,000 layoffs last week (which particularly hit Microsoft’s recently acquired Nokia mobile divisions), Nadella signaled his company focus would be in the cloud, and on mobile. And without buy-in from the company’s new chief, XES was vulnerable — a common situation in Hollywood, where entertainment properties are routinely marooned when their institutional champions depart. Read More »

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ESPYs, Baseball All-Stars Big Hitters In Week’s Twitter TV Ratings

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 7:52am PDT

ESPYs, Baseball All-Stars Big Hitters In Week’s Twitter TV RatingsThree baseball events and two sports awards shows filled the top 10 lists in an otherwise slow week for the Twitter TV ratings from Nielsen. The ESPY Awards - otherwise known as How ESPN Fills The Sports-Free Dead Air The Day After Baseball’s All-Star Game – grabbed the week’s biggest Twitter audience, barely beating out the Major League Baseball showcase of its talent in total audience reach.

The Twitter TV ratings are designed to track the number of unique Twitter users who saw a post about a given show during its initial broadcast or during the three hours before and after, an aid to advertisers trying to see which shows are social-media heavy hitters (and which have audiences least likely to be skipping through the ads). The ESPYs, on ESPN and its Spanish-language sibling, reached 8.3 million people through nearly 1.6 million tweets. Even the Kids Choice Sports awards, hardly a big name beyond home channel Nickelodeon, grabbed the eighth spot on Nielsen Social’s Series & Specials list. Plenty of regulars still studded this week’s list, including The Bachelorette, Teen Wolf and dethroned three-time No. 1, Pretty Little LiarsOnce again, the WWE put two in the top 10, including a pay-per-view event, while reality programs Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta and Keeping Up With the Kardashians kept up their regular spots. Also of note: Univision music awards show Premios Juventud 2014which featured plenty of Tweet-worthy fashion and performances by notables such as Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, grabbed No. 6.

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‘Frozen’ Tops Digital Sales And Rentals For 2014′s First Half

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 3:38pm PDT

‘Frozen’ Tops Digital Sales And Rentals For 2014′s First HalfFrozenalready the all-time animation box-office champ and an Oscar winner, has added another jewel to its icy crown: Rentrak says the Walt Disney Animation feature topped the charts for the first half of 2014 in digital movie purchases and rentals on VOD and electronic sellthrough. Nearly all the other films in the top 10 were Oscar nominees tooeven the Jackass-produced comedy Bad Grandpa, which snagged a nomination for best makeup and hairstyling. It appears everyone spent that very chilly winter of 2014 catching up on the Oscar contenders they didn’t watch in theaters.

There is one important caveat to this list, however: It does not include any films from NBCUniversal, nor from indie studios (whatever size studio we count Lionsgate as these days, its Hunger Games sequel made the list at a not-that-surprising No. 2). Rentrak said that though it couldn’t include individual Universal films for the list, the studio’s products as a whole were No. 1 for both overall transactions and retail revenue during the period, which ran from the week of January 5 to June 29.

Rentrak top digital movie sales rentals 1st half 2014jpg

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3BlackDot Hybrid Firm Emerges From Stealth Mode With Ex-’Duck Dynasty’, Machinima Execs, Top YouTubers

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:00am PDT

3BlackDot Hybrid Firm Emerges From Stealth Mode With Ex-’Duck Dynasty’, Machinima Execs, Top YouTubers3BlackDot – a hybrid entertainment company with gamer and social-media-marketing roots and composed of video production, game development, online influencer and integrated marketing units – has officially come out of stealth mode this morning. Company principals include two former Machinima executives (Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton) and two prominent YouTube personalities (SeaNanners, aka Adam Montoya, and TheSyndicateProject, aka Tom Cassell).

As well, Stepleton’s older brother, former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, will join the organization as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video-content production company. The first Pickaxe project will be a live-action short based on Zombie Killer Squad, the mobile title developed by the company’s game unit and released last November to substantial success. The trailer for the short will be shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week, at a lounge 3BlackDot will be running for its online influencers and others.

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Ex-Relativity Exec, Obama And Kerry Fundraiser Jamie Denenberg Named Alpine Labs Partner, Chief Strategy Officer

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 3:44pm PDT

Ex-Relativity Exec, Obama And Kerry Fundraiser Jamie Denenberg Named Alpine Labs Partner, Chief Strategy OfficerJamie Denenberg, a veteran entertainment executive and prominent fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama, was named partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Alpine Labs, which creates film, TV and online content and was formerly known as Ketchum Labs. Alpine principals Kevin Abrams and Patrick Weir made the announcement today.

Denenberg was Kerry’s California finance director, raising tens of millions of dollars for his 2004 presidential campaign. She  also was an early “bundler,” pulling together contributions for Obama and organizing a number of “Young Hollywood” events for his 2008 campaign. Most recently, Denenberg was a partner in marketing company SA Entertainment. Before that, she led the creative content divisions at Relativity Media and Overture Films and worked for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital Names Machinima Veteran Sanjay Sharma President & COO

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 2:30pm PDT

Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital Names Machinima Veteran Sanjay Sharma President & COOCross-platform entertainment site All Def Digital named former Machinima executive Sanjay Sharma as the site’s first president and COO, co-founder Russell Simmons said today. Sharma also will join the site’s board, and will be responsible for day-to-day business and operational affairs while working with Simmons and other site founders on strategic direction. Simmons, the music and entertainment impresario, launched ADD last year with a string of YouTube online video shows and series featuring acts such as musicians Spoken Reasons and Odd Future, slam poetry, comedy, the reality show Love Dollhouse and more. The site has since continued to branch out on various distribution platforms and with new programming. It has ADD Logopartnered with DreamWorks Animation digital video unit AwesomenessTVHBO, YouTube and Universal Music Group, where Simmons’ Def Jam Music is quartered. The company also recently announced ADD52, a deal with Samsung’s streaming music service Milk Music to release a single from a little-known music artist every week for a year.

Sharma spent five years at Machinima as one of its first employees and left a few weeks ago as EVP Strategy and Business Development after helping spearhead a $18 million round of funding led by Warner Bros in March. Sharma previously worked in Warner’s business & legal affairs operations, and for an ad-tech startup.

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Hot Video: J.J. Abrams Unveils ‘Star Wars VII’ Starfighter

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 6:17am PDT

Hot Video: J.J. Abrams Unveils ‘Star Wars VII’ StarfighterAs part of a UNICEF fundraiser being run on Omaze.com, director J.J. Abrams unveils the X-Wing Starfighter that will be used in next year’s Star Wars VII.  The fundraiser is part of an effort Disney has dubbed Force for Change, designed to raise money to “find solutions to the world’s biggest problems.” Last week, the campaign posted an amusing video featuring Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart (in drag as Princess Leia). Now they’ve gone full monte on the X-Wing to really wrap up the fundraiser in style. Here’s the trailer:

Campaign link to enter for a chance to win: Omaze.com/StarWars

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‘Boyhood’ By The Numbers: What Else Happened Over 12 Years

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 10:37am PDT

‘Boyhood’ By The Numbers: What Else Happened Over 12 YearsAfter it debuted last week to the second-best opening of any specialty film in 2014, Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood is already considered an early Oscar contender that has a chance to cross over as it broadens its run to 10 markets today. It is unprecedented for a narrative film to be shot like this one was. It proved to be a time-lapse process that allows viewers to watch Ellar Coltrane and his castmates age naturally from age 6 to 18 and believably go through the joys and dramas, big and small, inherent in the lives of children. Linklater told Deadline he was lucky nothing unfortunate happened in the lives of the cast and crew, almost all of whom returned year after year. Here, Deadline looks at some of the things that happened to the participants over that span, including in Texas, where Linklater shot the film.

Boyhood chart

 

Number of other features, TV movies and shorts directed by Richard Linklater:  10
Number of TV episodes created by Richard Linklater: 6 (Up To Speed)
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Fullscreen Launches First Live Event For Its Digital Stars

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 10:17am PDT

Fullscreen Launches First Live Event For Its Digital StarsFullscreen, the big YouTube multi-channel network and talent management group, has launched its first live event, partnering with Warped Tour producer Kevin Lyman and his 4Fini company to feature some of its big online stars and other up-and-comers that it hopes to groom into big stars. The Intour 2014 event on Sept. 13 at the Pasadena Convention Center will feature appearances by Connor Franta, Ricky Dillon, Jc Caylen, Sam Tsui, JennXPenn, Alx James, Brent Rivera, Crawford Collins, WeeklyChris, Dylan Dauzat, Charity Vance, and FreshBigMouf. Tsui, Vance and Mouf are all musicians who will perform. The others, as generally happens in these big social-media-driven live events, will perform comedy, create behind-the-scenes social-media content for YouTube and Vine, meet with fans and otherwise entertain the devout audiences of 14- to 21-year-olds who are showing up in droves. Vidcon in Anaheim, produced by author and online star John Green and his co-starring brother Hank, recently drew 18,000 attendees, while earlier this month, RTX in Austin, backed by Rooster Teeth Productions, drew 30,000. Events by companies such as the Ryan Seacrest-backed Digitour frequently draw 15,000 to 20,000 attendees at events in cities such as Toronto and New York.

“It’s a vehicle for our Fullscreen talent to be with fans, experiment and create,” said Fullscreen SVP Larry Shapiro, the former CAA executive who heads the company’s talent-management unit. “It gives the fans an opportunity to say, ‘I was there,’ and it gives creators an opportunity to meet other people in that space.”

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Do They Really Need The Help? Dave Franco, Conan Join Tinder (Video)

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 9:22pm PDT

Do They Really Need The Help? Dave Franco, Conan Join Tinder (Video)OK, maybe Conan O’Brien could use a little help on the hookup from time to time, given that Nike-worthy swoosh of red hair atop his 6’5″ frame, but really, does any member of the Franco clan, especially young Dave Franco, need to worry about whipping out the Tinder mobile app to connect with comely cyber-denizens interested in more-than-virtual meetings? They have a lot of fun filling out their fake profiles as “Chip Whitley” and “Jengis Roundstone,” but remember folks, don’t try this at home. It could be a Tinder trap. Check out the video here:

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Relativity Units, Refinery29 Partner On Digital To TV Development

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 8:00am PDT

Relativity Units, Refinery29 Partner On Digital To TV DevelopmentOnline media company Refinery29 is partnering with Relativity Television and Relativity’s fashion division, M3/Relativity, to develop Refinery properties for more traditional linear TV outlets, focused on fashion and beauty topics, one of the biggest sectors in online video and other parts of the web. Under the deal, Relativity’s units will work with Refinery to turn its online content into programming for more traditional TV shows. M3′s role will in part be to bring in its prominent clients in the fashion world for on-air appearances.

“This partnership represents a great merger of two brands, Relativity and Refinery 29, which have the ability to take content development to the next level through top-tier relationships, experience and a shared vision to elevate creative programing for the most desired audience,” said Relativity Television CEO Tom Forman.
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Hot Trailer: Disney Animation’s ‘Big Hero 6′

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 12:42pm PDT

Hot Trailer: Disney Animation’s ‘Big Hero 6′Big Hero 6 faces a slippery slope trying to surpass last year’s animated entry from Disney Animation, the all-time toon box-office champ FrozenBut this tale set a couple of decades in the future in “San Fransokyo” looks promising enough, even if it doesn’t have a can’t-miss soundtrack with a song by that Adele Dazeem girl. It features, well, a creepy guy in a kabuki mask telepathically controlling a horde of microbots through a cranial implant, and the hip kids and lumpy macrobot trying to stop his apparently evil plan. Hey, it could happen. The trailer is below, and the film is set for a November 7 debut. Let us know what you think:

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‘Boyhood’: 39 Shooting Days, A 4,200-Day Production Schedule

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 11:30am PDT

‘Boyhood’: 39 Shooting Days, A 4,200-Day Production ScheduleThe first thing that catches you about Richard Linklater‘s new movie, Boyhoodis the gimmick: It took 12 years to make. And this wasn’t some Orson Welles-like fight with a studio or money people or an artistic fugue state like those afflicting early Terrence Malick or late Stanley Kubrick. It was done on purpose. And the studio behind the project, IFC, was all for it, doling out about $200,000 a year so Linklater could annually gather his cast and crew to shoot a few days at a time for a dozen years followed by, as Linklater put it, “a big chunk at the end” to finish the film.

Boyhood poster horizontalBut here’s the other thing: The movie is really good. And taking all that time might be part of the reason. The film follows the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane in his long-developing but remarkable debut) from age 5 until his first days in college at 18. It also tracks the twists in the lives of his two parents (Patricia Arquette and Linklater regular Ethan Hawke), who split before the film’s start, when Mason and his older sister (played by the director’s daughter Lorelei Linklater) were very young.

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EMMYS: Ricky Gervais “Nearly Cried” & Other Noms Twitter Reactions

By and | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 10:36am PDT

EMMYS: Ricky Gervais “Nearly Cried” & Other Noms Twitter ReactionsThe Derek star may have almost had waterworks but he was far from the only one getting emotional online after the TV Academy announced the list of nominees announced for this year’s Emmy Awards. Check out some of the best tweets we saw this morning. Do you have any more good ones we can add in?

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‘Academy Originals’ Mini-Docs Channel Filmmaking On AMPAS Site, YouTube

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 1:10pm PDT

‘Academy Originals’ Mini-Docs Channel Filmmaking On AMPAS Site, YouTubeThe Motion Picture Academy‘s new, and wide-ranging, weekly series of short videos talks about filmmaking of many kinds. Already, shorts posted on the two-month-old YouTube channel feature notables such as Mike White, Seth Rogen and Dustin Lance Black, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Jurassic Park and a video portrait of inner-city filmmakers.

“It’s an opportunity to really further inspire people about filmmaking and viewing film,” said Josh Spector, the Academy’s Managing Director of Digital Media and Marketing. “We really look at movies from a broad spectrum. We’re not locked in, we’re not sponsored, there are no ads. That frees you from conventional wisdom about what videos can be. People refer to them more as short films or mini-docs.”

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CDS Buckles In For Online ‘Maximum Ride’ With James Patterson YA Franchise

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 6:00am PDT

CDS Buckles In For Online ‘Maximum Ride’ With James Patterson YA FranchiseCollective Digital Studio will create an online video series based on the young-adult franchise Maximum Ride from best-selling author James Patterson, the YouTube multi-channel network and production studio said today. Patterson has his hands full with non-book projects based on his novels these days, including an order last week from CBS for a straight-to-series TV adaptation of his thriller Zoo.

Maximum Ride fake trailerThe Maximum Ride fantasy series centers on a group of young human-bird hybrids who escape from a lab called The School, led by the eponymous heroine Maximum “Max’ Ride. The eight Patterson books have sold more than 30 million copies, and also have inspired a Japanese manga spinoff series. Read More »

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Streamy Awards Submissions Open With New Categories, Voting Process

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 11:21pm PDT

Streamy Awards Submissions Open With New Categories, Voting ProcessSubmissions are now open for the Streamy Awards, which recognize the best in online streaming video, now with three new categories for Vine, the Twitter-owned site for looping 6-second videos, and one for the traditional TV show that does the best job reaching out to an online audience with original and innovative video. This year, the awards cover 47 categories, a streamlined nomination process,  a flat entry fee and the promise that the online (of course) voting process will be easier too. Submissions opened at midnight EDT today at http://www.streamys.org. Submissions will close July 27, with a webcast of the actual awards planned for this fall in Los Angeles.

Streamys.org site screen capture“The Streamy Awards are about relevance, excellence, and diversity, which is why our new categories reflect the current state of the industry and embrace the incredible enthusiasm and engagement of the online video community,” said Streamys Executive Producer Drew Baldwin.

Other new categories include such areas as gaming and beauty (both huge on YouTube), along with sports, pranks, science and education, and kids and family. The Streamys also have new categories for such areas as “collaboration,” “public service,” “cover song,” “indie,” and  First-Person Series.

Given the intense viewer engagement with so many online video creators, the awards will allow fans to nominate their favorite shows or creators in most categories, with the top fan favorite in each category automatically grabbing one nomination. Unlike the somewhat complicated industry and institutional relationship with more traditional Emmy and … Read More »

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Even After U.S. Departure, World Cup Rules Twitter TV Ratings By Big Margin

By | Monday July 7, 2014 @ 7:14pm PDT

Even After U.S. Departure, World Cup Rules Twitter TV Ratings By Big MarginFIFA’s World Cup telecasts continued to absorb American attention on social media every bit as much as they delivered big TV ratings for the fleet of networks carrying games, and it wasn’t just for the U.S. team’s unexpected run into the so-called “knockout rounds.” Even after that foray ended with a 2-1 loss to Belgium (a week after that game, I am not writing “spoiler alert,” dang it), interest and online conversation have continued to be very high.

That said, the Team USA game was a particularly huge conversation piece online, generating nearly 4.7 million posts on Twitter during the game and in the three hours before and after the telecast on four U.S. networks. Those tweets reached an audience of almost 12.4 million viewers, Nielsen calculates.

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